Feminism Ain’t No Dirty Word (Societal Sexism Affects Both Genders)

*Before you read any further, please know that FEMINISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD, and nor does it mean that we are man haters.


 Centuries of social conditioning has created a generational fear among women of being perceived as masculine. …..Centuries of social conditioning has also created a generational fear among MEN of being perceived as feminine.

This is where all the shaming and labels come into play, which perpetuate the oppression of girls and women, and places pressure on boys and men to amplify their masculinity in order to get ahead. As girls and women, if we are exhibit traits such as outspokenness, assertiveness, pro-active initiative and leadership skills, we get told we are too: bossy, pushy, domineering, loud, manly, butch etc.  For boys and men who demonstrate qualities such as gentleness, vulnerability, compassionateness, or sensitivity, they get told they are too: wimpy, soft, emotional, feminine, womanly, like a girl etc. ….As a society we shame girls with deep voices or masculine features and we shame boys with soft voices or effeminate gestures. Girls get called “too manly” and boys get called “too girly”. Social judgement and shaming occurs for both genders, based on their appearance, behaviours and attitudes.

…The only solution we can think of at MY COUNSELLING SERVICE is to be unashamedly “you”. If that means challenging stereotypes and gender norms, go right ahead! (The first step is to be aware of how sexism affects your life, irrespective of your gender, and then explore ways in which you can choose to redefine yourself based on what YOU want and who you authentically are, as opposed to what society deems is appropriate and acceptable for you.)

The notion that people need to be a certain way in order to receive socially approval and acceptance is a construct which alienates men from women and it is in this separateness where all of the problems arise. 

In 2015 girls and women are faced with mass media objectification on top of the age old sexual objectification battle. We don’t even realise how things we consider normal or standard in our society affects us, until we start to develop an awareness of feminism and the impact of sexism and how we ourselves internalise sexism. MY COUNSELLING SERVICE understands that women in today’s society experience a myriad of difficulties related to sexist societal norms and deeply ingrained patriarchy, including but not limited to the following issues:

  • sexual objectification
  • street harassment
  • self-objectification
  • mass media objectification
  • gender based violence
  • assertiveness
  • interpersonal communication
  • maintaining boundaries
  • sexual agency
  • slut shaming
  • gender role expectations
  • gender stereotypes
  • empowerment
  • self esteem
  • body image
  • power struggles
  • inequitable relationship dynamics
  • victim blaming
  • body shaming
  • personal and sexual freedom
  • career advancement
  • political voice

In 2015 Australia, boys and men have their own fair share of difficulties. While these will be explored in greater detail in a future blog, here as just a few examples: 

  • body image issues-predominantly the pressure to be muscular and “big” (Bigorexia is a silent epidemic in Australia);
  • a sense of having to adhere to societal expectations of what a “man” should look and be like (everything from how they speak and write, to how they interact in social settings, and what they wear or do in their spare time)
  • peer pressure to appear “hard”, “tough” and”fearless”
  • sexual pressure to have to “perform” (which commonly results in sexual performance anxiety leading to inability to maintain an erection during sex with a partner)

MY COUNSELLING SERVICE provides feminist counselling for people across Australia needing to talk to someone who understands about feminist theory and the impact of sexism on both men and women in our society. We understand how hard it is at times for both women and men, to keep up with social expectations.

At MY COUNSELLING SERVICE, we understand how important it is for our feminist-identifying clients to feel they will receive counselling support from respectful and non-judgemental female therapists who are pro-feminism.

MY COUNSELLING SERVICE welcomes all female and male clients wanting to get help to live their most empowered and fulfilled life. 

To learn more about feminism or to get involved in feminist activism in Sydney, go to www.sydneyfeminists.org